Q My Mini has an oil leak from the nearside of the engine. I thought it was the timing chain cover at first, but this seems dry, so I’m thinking it’s probably the gearbox seal that’s at fault. It’s only a fairly recent build so this is rather frustrating. I remember when it was built I couldn’t get the gearbox seals with the stiff metal part inside them. However, I now see that these are once again available from Mini Spares. Can these really be fitted without removing the ‘box? Could it be done with the engine in the car perhaps? Geoff
A Yet another small individual component that has suffered at the hands of incorrect re-manufacture. For the past I don’t know how many years now, I have been cutting a bit off the ends of the flexible U-seals that come in gasket sets because they are too long. The problem is that, if you’re not careful when fitting them as they come, the ends get trapped between the gearbox casing and block/ main cap joint, preventing a perfect seal. And this happens even when copious quantities of gorilla snot (RTV silicone) is applied. It’s just rubbish that such components can be so badly copied, and it happens to gaskets too. It’s like they are being scanned or photocopied, then scanned into machines that produce the tooling to make them. Some sizing error takes place and what you get is slightly out-of-kilter components that require your physical attention to get them to fit properly.
That metal reinforced seal was originally produced by Rover so that the seal could be replaced with engine/box still in the engine bay, not requiring the gearbox to be split from the engine to massively reduce the cost of warranty claim costs. They could be hammered into place after the leaking one was prised out. According to friends who used to work in Rover garages, they were told to use a large amount of gorilla snot as well. And undoubtedly the job was charged out at ‘book time’ for the full removal, split and replacement for those out of warranty. I have not seen or used the Mini Spares reproduction ones so can not directly comment on how good they are, or otherwise. And of course the only problem with using loads of sealant is the possibility of any excess falling in to the gearbox and potentially reducing the flow or even blocking off the oil pick-up pipe. To answer your question though, it should be possible to fit them with the engine in situ – just don’t use too much sealant and keep a close eye on the area in the future.
Rigid gearbox seals can be fitted in situ.